Archive for the ‘Social Media’ Category

The Twittiness of Twitter

15 Jul

I don’t get Twitter.

twitter, v.  (used without object)
1. to utter a succession of small, tremulous sounds, as a bird.
2. to talk lightly and rapidly, esp. of trivial matters; chatter.
3. to titter; giggle.
4. to tremble with excitement or the like; be in a flutter.

twit, v.
1. to taunt, tease, ridicule, etc., with reference to anything embarrassing; gibe at.
2. to reproach or upbraid.

twit, n.
Slang 1. A foolishly annoying person.

The second definition of twit, really, is the one that hits that nail for me. We all are foolishly annoying people, aren’t we?

It’s no surprise that I’m against social media. I find it strange, and impersonal and narcissistic. We’re not exchanging information, or educating ourselves. We’re trying out to be the most popular, greatest, awesome-est online us-es there are. Woohoo.

Mostly, I just don’t believe anyone is important enough for tweeting. Why is it that suddenly the egos of the masses have assembled to declare thoughts, ideas and imagination in the form of um, idle chit chat?

In the immortal, brilliant words of Mike Birbiglia (pre-Twitter, of course):

I’m always embarrassed to tell people I have a blog ’cause everybody has a blog, about anything: “Today I went to JCPenney.” And there’s one comment, “JCPenney, eh?” That’s not a blog, that’s a text message.

I know, I know. Technically, you are currently reading a blog. But, since I’ve yet to land a superior and utterly fitting job as a newspaper columnist, this will have to do. In context of my argument, blog, text, tweet, post, and now, dear Lord, a thing called lifestream, all go into the same soup pot.

Seriously, we should be ashamed. I think I started to become annoyed when news broke that our government officials were tweeting their 140-character posts like, “This session is boring.” Then, the tabloids and Twitter started dating, in probably the rags’ greatest faux relationship ever: using Twitter as a source.

Finally, last week, I wrote a story about Reba McEntire chiding fellow country musician Blake Shelton for his inappropriate tweets, and my head exploded.

It’s too much. Too much Twitter! It’s like a parallel universe to the new Bing commercials; a world of loud, chirpy chirps multiplying so that all you get is noise. Even if a particular twit is a virtuoso of wit and wisdom, after a minute-long shelf life, it gets shoved down, past that “more” icon, lost to the graveyard of tweets, unread.

Even Twitter’s self-explanation of its purpose raises my anti-social media line:

The result of using Twitter to stay connected with friends, relatives, and coworkers is that you have a sense of what folks are up to but you are not expected to respond to any updates unless you want to. This means you can step in and out of the flow of information as it suits you and it never queues up with increasing demand of your attention.

First, they used “folks” and “queues” in the same paragraph. What?  Second, Twitter (and other social media) is not about connectedness. That involves reciprocation, and unity and joining. All this short, fast-paced, look-at-me-mentality is the anti-connectedness. To borrow a phrase from a friend, “it’s a blatant display of online social self-masturbation.”

That’s quite a definition.


Social Media and Faux Friendships

01 Oct

Unlike millions of others around the world, I’m finding social media depressing these days. Maybe I’m hanging out on Facebook too much, but suddenly I’m finding the old-fashioned idea of friendship put to the test, and I’m in unfamiliar cyber territory.

For example, one of my college friends announced his engagement online this past Friday. A few days later, I was the 27th person to send a congratulatory message, most of those other messages, mind you, are from folks I don’t know. Not that I had any expectations that my friend would spend his second day of engagement starting a phone tree to spread the news, but still. I think, who are these strange people that are “friends” with my friend, and why does this type of communication feel more like a competition than a relationship?

Meanwhile, while poking around on my BFF’s online page, I came across a section of photographs, most of which are of he and his girlfriend. They are pictures I’ve never seen, of places I don’t recognize or have never visited. Suddenly I feel like I’m peeking through the window of a stranger’s house.

I’ve come to realize that those people I have known for so long, the ones who know me better than anyone, are now scattered across the world, living lives I know nothing about.

When I first moved to Florida, the absence of my gaggle of friends was palpable. It was very different from my previous experiences of moving to a strange town, living alone and being alone. This time I had a soon-to-be husband roommate, with plenty of friends, but I had to figure out how to find new companions.

I remember lamenting with my now long-distance pals that maybe, at some point in life, we stop forming bonds with new people. Maybe, I was so blessed with amazing, quirky, loving, caring, thoughtful friends that there would be no new additions to the fold.

I accepted this, I believed it. Until I realized those far-away loyal companions were cheating on me with hundreds of other little cyber-buddies, and I wasn’t in on the action.

Maybe, in the long run, long-distance friendships cannot work. And these media sites, all bannered with “keep in touch” and “reconnect” slogans, are less of a technological wonder of communication and more of a modern-day cheat sheet to friendship maintenance.

Are we all really this self-centered? “Upload it and they will come.” We even post updates about ourselves in the third person for goodness sakes.

Turns out I’m not the only one pegging social networks for their self-involved tendencies; check out this article, Social Networking IDs Narcissism, from PsychCentral.

What happened to a verbal exchange, give and take? What about laughing so hard your stomach aches, or something cold comes out your nose, which turns into a story to be told and told and retold, until all you have to hear is the words “orange soda” and the laugher starts all over again? What about hugs, and greeting cards and letters (the ones that require postage) or long talks that last until 3:00 a.m.?

I know it’s possible. Surely I’m not the only person who talks to her college roommate every day, even though she’s in Texas and I’m residing under endless palm trees. Surely there are childhood friends who still have a monthly girls night or still use their cell phone minutes to catch up every week.

Funny, the call to action for friendship would best be suited, perhaps, to a social media site: Support the Back to Friendship Cause! Ugh. Once again, the world is filled with popularity and lemmings.